In this part of the “Haustenbeck’s Heritage” series we will take a look at the vehicles that were present after the war on Henschel’s proving ground at Haustenbeck. For an introduction to this facility, also known as Panzerversuchsstation 96, read my previous article that appeared in this series.
Featured image: Panther 121 303, Tiger II V2 and Jagdtiger 305 004 lined-up near the Kranhalle
Table of Contents
- Acte de Presence
- From Kummersdorf with Labels
- Exodus from Haustenbeck
Acte de Presence
After the war, several documents and intelligence reports were prepared on the vehicles found in Haustenbeck – often with an emphasis on the E-100 and Grille prototypes. Using these primary and other secondary sources, a complete list of all vehicles present at the test site in April 1945 could be drawn up. The result of this investigation can be seen in Table 1 below, in which all vehicles are listed together with their chassis number (if known) and relevant notes from primary reports.
The remainder of this article will cover in detail all of the vehicles listed in the table except Jagdtiger 305 004 and Tiger II V2. Both of which will be discussed in detail in their own article. Many of the vehicles at Haustenbeck were towed or driven out of their garages to be collected in the clearing between the garages, farms and the Kranhalle. In 1946 these vehicles were transported to the School of Tank Technology (STT) in Chertsey, England after the proving ground closed. To conclude this article, this journey to Chertsey is also examined.
|KV-1||“Captured soon after 22 June 1941″1, “demolished” 2|
|DW I||“Made in 1938, the forerunner-of the Tiger”1|
|VK 30.01 (H)||2||“Kleiner Tiger”3 or “Small Tiger”1, with trench digging equipment|
|Tiger I||V3||“Underwater Tiger”|
|Tiger I||250 001||“first Tiger I off production. It has been shot at and burned out”1|
|Tiger II||V2||“Completely gas proof, and adapted to wade through (…) water”1|
|Tiger II||280 009 or 280 012||“Gun is spiked, but otherwise can probably be put in full fighting-trim”1|
|Jagdtiger||305 004||Found in the woods around the proving ground, running condition|
|Panther||121 303||Gas proofed, can be made a runner|
|E- 100||Hull only|
|Sfl. Grille 17|
In 1943 a demonstration was held just north of Haustenbeck near the Knochenbach where the new Tiger tank was introduced to the press. During this event a Tiger could be seen firing on several ‘Beute Panzer’. A KV-1 is briefly shown after being hit. The smoke and fire see in the video are probably added for show. Apparently this KV-1 was later brought to the Panzerversuchsstation. There are, however, no known photos of this tank at the proving ground.
The video sequence is titled “Bei der Vorführung des “Tiger” 19. April“4, but Schneider places this demonstration on 27 March 19435. The same demonstration was also shown in cinema newsreel Die Wochenschau6. For this occasion a Tiger drove through house No. 196 (Schlingpässer Haus) – a particularly poor move had it been during combat. Many photos and clips were used throughout the war for propaganda purposes. Footage from this demonstration is still regularly used in documentaries today to show the “might” of the Tiger tanks. Period propaganda photos are often retouched to hide the smoke candles on the turret.
Durchbruchswagen I and VK 30.01 (H)
In a report from 24 May 1945, these Tiger-predecessors DW I and VK 30.01 are simply described as ploughs – probably because they were both without turret. Noted about these “miscellaneous tanks” was the following:
“Two tanks made during early German tank development (…) show distinct lines of the Mark IV and Mark V tanks. The salient feature is the development phase of their suspension systems.”ETOUSA, “Preliminary Report on Henschel Tank Proving Ground.”
A document composed on 20 July 1945 correctly recognises that these belong to the Tiger family and reports that “several models of the predecessor of the Tiger are on hand”7.
The presence of the DW I is confirmed by Arnoldt but there is no photographic evidence3. In contrast to the DW I, the VK 30.01 has been photographed many times around the site. A series of videos was shot by the British on 4 July 1945 one of which shows the VK digging a trench8. The vehicle is followed by Arnoldt, a uniformed man and a girl, walking through the freshly dug waist-high trench.
Arnoldt affectionately called the VK 30.01 “Kleiner Tiger” or Tiger cub9. In August 1945 he admitted that it was “an excellent tank, but not adopted because of Porsche’s influence and mania for very heavy tanks.”1
Ultimately the VK 30.01 ended up as a hard target at the nearby firing range Thoury Hartcourt in the southern part of the Senne training area10. A photo taken in 1980 shows what remains of the battered hull.
Tiger – Fgst.Nr. V3
Tiger Fahrgestellnummer V3 was one of three Tiger in the Versuchsserie ordered by the Heereswaffenamt. The chassis numbers of these were V1, V2 and V3 and thus fell outside the normal 250 001 range of the series production Tigers11. The first Versuchs Tiger was completed in April 1942 and demonstrated on Hitler’s birthday at Rastenburg. However, the next two were delayed. V2 was produced in October 1942, but was later redesignated 250 018 so that the Tiger with chassis number 250 018 became V212.
Tiger V3 did not roll off the assembly line until January 1943. Although the hull design had long progressed by 1943, V3 still has the initial hull. This hull is characterised by the angled hull extensions and cut-outs reminiscent of the Vorpanzer as well as the antenna base at the hull rear. Unlike the other initial Tigers, V3 was fitted with standard mud guards. Additionally, it was equipped with an up-to-date turret, No. 88, having an escape hatch in the rear11.
Starting in April 1943 V3 was used for research and development of the Tiger I’s deep wading equipment13. These trials continued until after the war. Reportedly its last test at Haustenbeck took place in October 194514.
Tiger II – Fgst.Nr. V2
A dedicated article about this vehicle will be published in due time. Once live, a link to the article will be placed here.
Tiger II – Fgst.Nr. 280 009 or 280 012
To this day it remains unknown whether the Tiger II that stayed at Haustenbeck at the end of the war was the 9th or 12th series production Tiger II. Where does this ambiguity come from? Presumably, both Tigers were mentioned in the reports that Henschel drew up during experiments. Both Tigers having been produced in March 1944, they sport nearly identical features.
The exterior features are those one would expect on an early Tiger II: initial turret with monobloc barrel without turret ring guard and the original untrimmed hull side extensions. Remarkably, a notch has been cut in the glacis of this vehicle to improve the radio operator’s field of vision – a modification that supposedly was only implemented in early April15.
While some photos of this Tiger already appeared in Spielberger’s work12, it was only later identified by Jentz as either 280 009 or 280 01215 Unfortunately, Jentz gave no explanation for his observations.
One of either 280 009 or 280 012 was used to test the effectiveness of the new gas protection system during the Nebelversuche mit eingebautem Drägergerät (smoke trails with built-in Dräger system). In his extensive work on the Tiger B, Trojca confirms that 280 012 underwent this trial16, but it is unclear if this is a guess on Trojca’s part or based on actual sources.
The same tank, now looking quite beat up and lacking portions of its Zimmerit coating, was seen later in 1944 during live firing tests. It remains unclear whether the barrel was damaged during these trials or whether it was incurred later in its live. Possibly these tests were meant to evaluate the performance of the 8,8 cm KwK 43 L/71‘s muzzle brake – which would later be replaced with a more compact design.
According to the evaluation records kept by Henschel, Tiger II 280 009 was used to perform gas protection trials from May 8, 1944 onwards. The table below gives an overview of the reports for which 280 009 was certainly used17. According to these reports 280 009 must have been present at Haustenbeck until as late as February 1945 when, after driving 1400 km, an suspension arm (Laufradkurbel) broke12.
|276 Schutzlüftungsgerät (Dräger) im „Tiger B“||8/5/44|
|280 Versuche mit Drägeranlage im „Tiger B“||23/11/44|
|296 Kurbelbruch am Laufwerk des „Tiger B“||8/2/45|
The Tiger was found with its gun spiked, but still in drivable condition. It was outfitted with the latest Kgs 73/800/152 type single-link combat tracks. The tank was subsequently used in a comparison video showing it together with Bob Cracknell’s Valentine XI, “Charger”18 on 4 July 1945. A second video shows the Tiger driving forwards and backwards through the deep wading bassin.
Interestingly, Arnoldt and his assistant Laufeld made no mention of the fact that this vehicle had been made gas tight to the British delegation visiting on August 25, 1945. This is strange as they made clear note of this “modification” in the case of the Tiger II V2 and the Panther. Perhaps this means that the Tiger was indeed not made gas tight – indicating 280 009 and 280 012 are indeed different vehicles having performed different trials at Haustenbeck.
“Royal Tiger. The gun is spiked, but otherwise the tank can probably be put in full fighting-trim.”BIOS, “The Henschel Panzerversuchsstation, Haustenbeck, Paderborn.”
Even though 280 009 and 280 012 quite certainly were both issued to Wa Prüf 6 for the unforeseeable future it will remain a mystery whether both have actually been at Haustenbeck at any given time. In total some 12 Tiger II tanks with initial turret were allocated to the Heereswaffenamt, the first 6 of which (including 280 006 and 280 008), arrived at Kummersdorf at 9 May and 21 June 194419.
Maybe this ambiguity is the result of a mix-up, a clerical mistake? Or was one of them requisitioned from the proving ground as the war situation dwindled? Maybe we will never know.
The vehicles at Haustenbeck that aroused most interest with the invaders surely were the E-100 and Grille. Despite Hitler’s explicit ban on new tank development – except for the Grille 17 – from May 1944, Kniepkamp (head of Wa Prüf 6/F) ordered work on the E-100 to continue at Haustenbeck20. While the initial design of this monstrous tank lay with Krupp’s Tiger-Maus, it was rebranded E-100 and further developed by Adlerwerke on instructions of Kniepkamp21.
After the raw armour hull arrived at Haustenbeck in June 1944 it was placed in the Tigerhalle. A team of three Adler workers started construction, but work progressed slowly. The Adler firm had no previous experience in tank building whatsoever. The E-100 was therefore constructed under the auspices of Arnoldt and his crew which all had plenty of experience on the suspension and automotive components of heavy tanks.
On 15 January 1945 Arnoldt sent a status report to Wa Prüf 6/F on the progress of construction22. The report contained no less than 62 photos, many of which are published in Spielberger, Jentz and Fröhlich.
The engine compartment was largely ready, but still missing fuel lines. Because of the deteriorating war situation many parts had not arrived or were damaged in transit. In a translated report by Director Jenschke of Adlerwerke the E-100 is discussed:
“A trial vehicle of this super-heavy tank is at Sennelager near Paderborn and is practically completed. Missing are the installations of the springs and a few details of the interior equipment. The springs were dispatched from us by rail to Obering/Arnold [sic!], Bad Lippspring, and ought to be stored there. Receipt confirmation was not obtained due to the situation.”CIOS, “Development of New Series German Tanks up to End of March 1945.”
At the time of its capture in April, the E-100’s suspension was still largely incomplete and many components had been disassembled from the hull awaiting the installation of the missing fuel lines. By May the suspension was fully installed and the hull subsequently moved out of the Tigerhalle. A colour photo shows the red oxide coloured hull sitting outside with many boxes and loose components thrown in. The engine cover sits on top of the driver’s compartment.
On 4 July 1945 a video23 was shot featuring Bob Cracknell’s Valentine XI, “Charger”18. Charger was part of 20th Anti-Tank Regiment stationed at nearby Paderborn. The video shows the sheer size of the E-100’s hull compared to the Valentine.
According to Arnoldt the E-100 was already shipped to the UK in June 194524, but this is incorrect seeing that it was still present when the delegation visited in August.
When the E-100 arrived in the UK, it was studied at the School of Tank Technology. One photo is known to exist at Chertsey which shows the hull fitted with tracks. Unfortunately, here the trail goes cold.
A few years after it departure from Haustenbeck, a photo of the E-100 surfaced in an illustrated record of German army equipment25. The image is retouched and a rather peculiar looking sprocket ring was invented out of thin air26.
Recently, in one of his Q&A sessions, David Willey added a new turn to the story. He revealed that a document in the Tank Museum archives disclosed that the intention was for the E-100 to be send to Bovington after evaluation. There is no evidence that the hull ever reached the museum27.
Krupp designed a Selbstfahrlafette “Grille” to carry either a 17 cm gun or 21 cm mortar. The chassis used many off-the-shelf Tiger components e.g. engine, gear box and parts of the suspension. Arnoldt described the Grille as follows:
“[it] was essentially a “portes” type of carriage and was designed to transport the 17 cm K from one firing position to another just short of the foremost infantry positions, but was not designed to drive up to the front line.”Arnoldt, May 19453
On 31 October 1944 Krupp-Werk Essen was bombed and therefore deemed unfit for assembly of the first Grille Versuchsfahrzeug. Therefore assembly had to be relocated to another, more suitable, place.
Krupp suggested the Grille was best assembled at a workshop with Tiger assembly experience and proposed to assemble the Grille at Panzerversuchsstation 96 given that the required equipment was available. Major Koch of WuG 6 (Waffen und Gerät) contacted Henschel to verify whether this was possible at all. Henschel’s reaction was positive as a suitable assembly workshop with 15 ton crane was to be finished at the start of 1945.
The latter workshop, repurposed for assembly of the Grille, was already being constructed as an expansion of the proving ground in direction of “Auf der Horst”28. This new workshop was located closer to the test-drive area at Sommerberg than other facilities at the proving ground. Not only a workshop with crane was planned, but also a small office. Even though the buildings were completed the workshop remained incomplete as delivery of the 15 ton crane was severely delayed. Just before war’s end the proving ground took delivery of the crane, but it was never installed. The Grille arrived at Haustenbeck in early 1945, but work on the project was ceased after 20 February 1945.
Due to the lack of a crane in the new workshop the chassis must have been placed in another building. Photos after its capture, show the chassis sitting in the Gashalle. The Grille was eventually dragged to the assembly point near the garages where it sat amidst various other vehicles. By this time most of the loose fitting shown in the photo above had been stored away or gone missing.
From Kummersdorf with Labels
A number of vehicles found at Haustenbeck made their way from the Verskraft run by Heereswaffenamt / Wa Prüf 6. Among these are the Panther and Jagdtiger which are clearly labelled with their Versuchfahrzeug and chassis number on the glacis. A third vehicle, the first production Tiger, was also trialled at Kummersdorf before it was brought to Haustenbeck.
Tiger I – Fgst.Nr. 205 001 (113)
The first series production Tiger I with chassis number 250 001 was assembled in May 1942. It was confiscated by Wa Prüf 6 for testing purposes and was sent to Kummersdorf where it received number 113 and license plate WH-013896.
In November 1942, 250 001 joined Tigers 250 011, 250 013 and 250 018 for comparative trials against the Porsche-Tiger at Berka. By this time, the vehicle had been fitted with a turret and improvised mud guards along the side as well as extensions to the front fenders.
Finally, this Tiger ended up at Haustenbeck, why or when are not know, but it must have outserved its usefulness at Kummersdorf after it was put through its paces. In August Arnoldt gave the following description of this vehicle to the British delegation:
“First Tiger I off production. It has been shot at and burned out”BIOS, “The Henschel Panzerversuchsstation, Haustenbeck, Paderborn.”
In videos taken on 4 July, the Archer “Lion sur Mer”23 and Valentine “Charger” of 20th Anti-Tank Regiment are seen shooting at the vehicle. Clearly, the vehicle was already immobile for some time, sitting without tracks and many of its wheels missing. Note the right hand side armour has been blown off – the cause of which is unknown.
Jagdtiger – Fgst.Nr. 305 004 (253)
Like Tiger II V2, this vehicle deserves a dedicated article. Once published, a link to the article will be placed here.
Panther – Fgst.Nr. 121 303 (284)
This Panther was assembled on or about 1 April 1944 and is the third M.A.N. production Panther Ausführung G29. Jentz mentions that it differs from later specimen by the lack of wooden bump stops for the driver’s and radio operator’s hatch lids nor does it feature handles for these hatches. Additionally, the armour cover over the roof vent did not yet have a cut-out to accommodate the gun travel lock in folded down position. The photos below were all taken at Haustenbeck. Other photos in the series (not pictured here) show the same Panther with Henschel-mechanics Fischer and Finis as well as test driver Schönbach, who also drove the first Tiger28. Note that the roof of the Panther is riddled with pine needles.
The Panther arrived at the Panzerversuchsstation in 1944 to partake in trials regarding the Dräger air filtration system. The report on these trials is aptly named Versuche mit Drägeranlage im „Panther G“. Although not clearly visible, a bunch of wires dangles from the right front corner of the turret. These wires probably connect to sensors inside the vehicle. The trials with the air filtration system will be discussed in more detail in a future article.
Exodus from Haustenbeck
In January 1946 part of the “German Tanks of Technical Interest” kept at Haustenbeck was photographed by a Lieutenant Craig on their journey from Panzerversuchsstation 96 to the School of Tank Technology at Chertsey, England.
At least the E-100, Grille and Tiger V3 were shipped the same day. They were towed by Lend-Lease M20 Diamond T trucks. The M20 transporter was normally used in combination with the M19 trailer, but for this occasion the unusually heavy cargo was transported on Culemeyer Straßenroller trailers. Allegedly, the unit responsible for the move was the 835 Heavy Recovery Section of REME.
The convoy crossed the Weser at Nienburg on January the fifth. By the end of 1945 a temporary multi-truss Bailey decked bridge had been constructed there by the Royal Engineers replacing the demolished Weserbrücke upstream. A photo shows the E-100 being winched across the bridge – most likely to keep the weight on the bridge deck as low as possible.
The next group of Lt. Craig’s photos show the Grille and Tiger parked closely together. Until now the location of these photos had not been established, but by the presence of the water tower in the background and the marshalling yard it is certain that these photos were taken at Nienburg. Presumably, the convoy stayed here for the night. Note that some of the transporters have an insulating cover over their bonnet. It is evident most of the Grille’s sheet metal fighting compartment has been disassembled and stowed inside.
The E-100 was parked just down the road past the railway station – which was largely demolished in 1945 – on the aptly named Bahnhoffstraße. The low-roofed barrack reads Abfertigung (clearance) and might have belonged to the Bahnmeisterei. The image above show the entire view of the E-100 at Nienburg available via IWM with a higher quality crop composited in to give the best result.
The two Formsignale (semaphore signals) indicate the presence of the two nearby railroad tracks. Combined with the water tower, these features were a great help in identifying the location of these photos.
The convoy made their way along the East bank of the Weser river to Bremerhaven from where the vehicles were shipped to England.
- BIOS, “The Henschel Panzerversuchsstation, Haustenbeck, Paderborn.”
- ETOUSA, “Preliminary Report on Henschel Tank Proving Ground.”
- GSI, “Interrogation of Herr Kurt Arnoldt, Chief Technical Engineer Henschel AFV Research and Experimental Establishment at Haustenbeck.”
- “Material Nr 1435, Bei Der Vorführung Des Tiger. 19. April.”
- Schneider and Kohler, Tigers in Combat. Volume III.
- “Die Deutsche Wochenschau 1943 № 659.”
- CIOS, “The Henschel Tank Proving Ground.”
- CriticalPast, “HD Stock Video Footage – Allies Testing German Armor at the Henschel Tank Testing Grounds near Kassel, Germany, Following World War II.”
- BIOS, “The Henschel Panzerversuchsstation, Haustenbeck, Paderborn.”, GSI, “Interrogation of Herr Kurt Arnoldt, Chief Technical Engineer Henschel AFV Research and Experimental Establishment at Haustenbeck.”
- Author’s correspondence with Ludwig Teichmann
- Jentz and Doyle, Germany’s Tiger Tanks : D.W. to Tiger I.
- Spielberger, Panzer VI Tiger Und Seine Abarten.
- Fletcher, Tiger! : The Tiger Tank: A British View.
- Schneider, “Technical Trials at Senne.”
- Jentz and Doyle, Germany’s Tiger Tanks VK45.02 to Tiger II.
- Waldemar Trojca and Gregor Trojca, Tiger Ausf. B Königstiger : Technik Und Einsatzgeschichte.
- Author’s correspondence with Alexander Volgin, data according to RH 8/2625 and RH 8/2626
- Middleton, “Valentine XI – Restoration/Refurb in Progress.”
- NARA T78 R167, T78 R168; BAMA RH 10/349; Schneider, Tigers in Combat II.
- Fröhlich, Überschwere Panzerprojekte Konzepte Und Entwürfe Der Wehrmacht.
- When Krupp got wind of this they were not too happy about it.
- Fröhlich, Überschwere Panzerprojekte Konzepte Und Entwürfe Der Wehrmacht., Jentz and Doyle, Panzer Tracts 6, Schwere Panzerkampfwagen : D.W. to E-100 Including the Tigers., Spielberger, Spezial-Panzerfahrzeuge Des Deutschen Heeres.
- CriticalPast, “HD Stock Video Footage – Allies Test German Armor at the Henschel Tank Testing Grounds,Haustenbeck, Germany.”
- Spielberger, Spezial-Panzerfahrzeuge Des Deutschen Heeres.
- The War Office, M.I. 10, “Illustrated Record Of German Army Equipment 1939 – 19 45 Volume III.”, more recently this photo was also published by Hoffschmidt and, Von Senger und Etterlin
- The photograph that served as a basis was clearly taken at Haustenbeck.
- The Tank Museum, “Curator Q&A #13: Bergepanthers | The Tank Museum.”
- Göbel, “Panzerversuchsstation 96 Haustenbeck Auf Kampmeiers Stätte.”
- Jentz and Doyle, Panzer Tracts 5-3, Panzerkampfwagen “Panther” : Ausführung G.